BOGUS CHECKUP REPORTS FOUND

Kepco uncovers data-fabrication scam

Kyodo

Kansai Electric Power Co. said Monday it found 3,659 cases of fabricated records at its 11 thermal power generation facilities between fiscal 2000 and 2003.

Japan’s second-largest electric utility said the fabrication of data regarding regular facility checkups and administrative matters was uncovered at 10 of its thermal power plants and a generation site that provides electricity to Kansai International Airport.

The company made the revelation after last month’s disclosure of 176 cases of falsified data reports by officials of Kansai International Airport Energy Center, a heat-electricity cogeneration facility that serves the airport.

This prompted Kepco to reinvestigate the results of voluntary inspections it had carried out at its thermal plants since September 2000. It discovered an additional 3,483 instances of false and wrong data, bringing the total to more than 3,600.

The cases included fabricating figures gained during the checks and concocting minutes of meetings that were never held.

In addition to these cases, there were 3,345 instances of mistakes such as failing to submit inspection reports on time.

Kepco said it will do its best to prevent a recurrence before its next round of voluntary checks begins in September, and added it is considering reprimanding those who were involved in especially malicious fabrications.

It blamed “insufficient internal check-and-balance functions and lack of understanding of laws and regulations” for the massive amount of false reports.

Hideji Sugiyama, vice minister of economy, trade and industry, told a news conference, “We will scrutinize the case, possibly with additional inspections, and decide whether we need to give an administrative punishment to the company.”

He said he wants all power companies to conduct their safety checkups in a strict manner.

Asked about possible repercussions on the government’s policy of promoting the recycling of spent nuclear fuel, Sugiyama said, “I don’t think (the case) is directly linked with the issue of the safety of nuclear power generation.”

The utility earlier this year got permission to resume plans to use reprocessed spent nuclear fuel in the reactors at its plant in Takahama, Fukui Prefecture. The plan had been stalled by a safety-data falsification that surfaced in 1999.

In that scandal, British Nuclear Fuels PLC doctored inspection data on MOX fuel to be used at Kepco’s Takahama plant.